Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Phil and Diana found some info on this great drive, the Grand Canyon of Colorado and Snaggletooth.  It sounded wonderful.  It was beautiful, but not quite what we were expecting road wise.  We thought it would be a loop, go in at one place and drive out the other side, but that wasn't to be.  We were 15 miles in and met some atv'ers who cautioned us the road just got more narrow and rough.  They had gone 11 miles further than us and were still miles from coming to a main road.  At this point we decided to turn around and go back.  You see, out of the 15 miles, over 5 was some hard core 4-wheeling.  It took us about 4 hours to go that last 5 miles.  
The Dolores River in the Mountain Sheep Recreation Area.

This canyon is 1500 feet deep.

At times it was like going through a tunnel of trees.  Everyone not only got new desert pinstripes on their vehicles, but the kayaks too.

Time for lunch.

We all wondered what happened to this tree.  Every limb on it was crooked.

About 10 miles in and we come to the beginning of the 4-wheel drive part of the trip.  The guys are checking out the road and deciding which is the best way up.  They also did a fair amount of road building too.

The pyramid.  This was taunted in the write up as one of Colorado's best kept secrets.  It was a beautiful drive.

Once we started on the 4-wheel portion, it didn't stop for 5.4 miles.

But the view was great.

And no, this is not the same picture as above.  Look closely and you will see the rocks are different.

Again, they are checking out the road first.
Since we had stopped and filled in holes and rebuilt roads on the way in, once we turned around and headed back, it only took us 2 hours and 1 stop.
Just like Bilbo Baggins says, "You never know what adventures you will find when you step out of your door (paraphrased)".

Monday, September 24, 2012


Telluride has limited parking, so we parked up at Mountain Village and took the tram into town.  The tram is actually several gondola's.

The first part of the trip was up the mountain to Mountain Village Plaza, where we caught the 2nd gondola which took us over and down into Telluride.  It sure looks like a long ways down.

Joanie Leckey, a WIN friend who stays in Telluride during the summer, met us for our day trip and she suggested Smuggler Joe's for lunch.

Reading this sign reminded me of the movie 'Paint Your Wagon', where they were going to tunnel underneath of the town thinking of all the gold dust which would have fallen through the cracks.

I showed some long distance pictures of the powerhouse and falls when I came off of Imogene Pass (see my previous blog), but today we drove to the powerhouse.

The building is really quite impressive as you drive there.

And we made it.  Here I am looking at the back of the house.  Interestingly, we talked to some Idarado Mining Company workers and got the following update about the power plant.  In 1991, Eric got a long term lease from the state and he sent the turbine and guts of the power plant off for rebuilding.  Once he got it back, he got the power plant up and running, for the first time since 1953.  He then remodeled the house and moved his family there.  But in 2010 the Idarado Mining Co. bought out his lease and took over the power plant.  The mining company is in the process of updating all the electrical wiring and conduit outside.  No one is living in the house at the present time, and the power plant is currently turned off during the maintenance and updating.  It is planned to have it back online in the next few months.

Standing at the base of the falls.

These were the switchbacks to drive up to the power plant.  You didn't run into town for a quart of milk, that's for sure.

Here is the Smuggler Mine, now owned by Idarado Mining.  I guess this is why they want the power plant in operation.

On the way back to Dolores, we stopped at the Rico Hot Springs.

Personally, I wouldn't get in.  The water was nasty looking.  Some folks who did use the hot springs some years back, remember it turned their clothes a rusty red/orange.  I like hot springs, but I'm not so sure this one would be good for your health.  Maybe too much minerals or at least not the right kind.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sand Canyon Trail

Sand Canyon Trail was 6.5 miles from the southern trailhead up to Sand Canyon Pueblo and the northern trailhead.  It ascends over 1400 feet, with one 1/2 mile section ascending 700 feet over 30 switchbacks.  Max, Mark and myself decided to hike it one day.  Mark only hiked up, but Max and I hiked both up and back.  With all our side trips, we figured we hiked 15 miles that day.  And yes, my feet were sore.
Here we are not too far from the beginning of the trail and we find our first ruins.  The map only showed two sets of ruins, but we found there were many, many more along the way.

The trail was marked with signs which said 'spur'.  Of course we had to check them all out.  This was one of the smaller ruins we found.  Most of them did not allow you to climb this close.

This is Saddlehorn Pueblo.

Sunny Alcove Pueblo.

Standing Curved Wall Pueblo.  All of the pueblos and cliff dwellings here have not been reconstructed.  Because they are out of the direct sunlight, rain and wind, they have been much better preserved than those ruins on top of the mesa.

Here we are at the start of the 700 foot climb to the top.

We made it.

Yes, I really did climb up out of that valley.

Sand Canyon Pueblo was another mesa top pueblo which is not much more than a pile of rubble today.

We wondered what made the unusual markings on this rock.  We decided it looked like chicken scratching.

This is Double Cliff House, and we spotted it across the valley on the other side.  Brad and Karla, who we met at the Yellowjacket Ruins hike, started at the top and hiked down, crossing the valley over to these ruins, then back again and on down to the bottom.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Yellowjacket Ruins, Anasazi Heritage Center and Dolores Harvest Festival

On Saturday, Dolores was having a Harvest Festival and they were giving rides on the Galloping Goose.
From 1933 to 1949 this Galloping Goose #5 provided supplies and delivered mail to the San Juan Mountain area.  The Pierce Arrow body and buick motor were cheaper to operate than a steam engine or diesel engine locomotive.

The Galloping Goose #5 has been fully restored and is on display in Dolores.

They were even giving rides, but the track only extended about a block.  So, they let you ride up and down the block two whole times.

As we were walking across the street I noticed the bear in the back of this pickup.  It is now bear season and these guys were bringing in their bear for processing and stuffing.  They planned on making sausage out of the meat and they were going to give half to the community, then have the bear stuffed.  It was a large bear, about 400 pounds.  I have to say this was the only bear I have seen this year in Colorado, even though many places I've been have been having problems with bears because of the drought.  The need for food and water has brought them into populated areas more this year than normal.

The Anasazi Heritage Center was on the way to town.  It had a nice exhibit inside and then we walked to the top of the hill where the Escalante Pueblo was located.

From the top of the hill you had a great view of McPhee Reservoir, which right now is very, very low on water, like everything else in Colorado.
Joyce discovered there was a guided hike to Yellowjacket Ruins on Sunday.  These ruins are not public or accessible, being behind locked gates, and are made available with a free, guided tour only several times a year.  There is a limit of 20 people per tour, so we were lucky we were able to get 11 of us on the tour.
In addition to our group, there were about six others, including one archaeologist, Virginia Wolfe.
As we headed out there was nothing to indicate ruins were in our path.  To most of us it simply looked like we were hiking to some low, scrubby hills, topped by rocks.  As we got closer we found we were hiking on a mesa, next to a small valley.

There were some ruins down in the valley (a cave), but we couldn't go there because it was located on private property.  But above we did find these petroglyphs.  Virginia said they were a warning to stay away.

Down a short way was another etching.  I believe they called these 'lizard men'.

As we came upon the first big hill, this large stone was pointed out.  It was one of several stones which used to stand upright.  They had something to do with their calendar and reading the sun's movements.

These rocks are all that is left of one of the largest pueblo ruins in this area of the country.  There were over 800 rooms and kiva's here at one time.

This is the only standing stone still standing.  Upon close examination, you can tell the stone was shaped before being stood upright.

The archaeologist pointed out the remains of a wall, probably to a small tower.

There were pottery shards all over the fields.

Another pottery shard.  Some archaeological diggings have been done in the area and these shards date back 800 years or so.

The group is standing on what was once a tower-kiva.  Below was a kiva, but instead of the top being part of the plaza, they built a multi-level tower.  This kiva was dug out, inspected and notes made, before being filled back in.  As you can tell, this entire ruins have not been reconstructed in any way.

This is what they found during the archaeological exploration and dig.
The guide was very good, but I'm glad we had the archaeologist too.  She had some interesting ideas and information about the Puebloan Indian culture.